Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1986)

I first heard Emerson, Lake & Palmer on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Their version of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" was that show's theme song during the late 70's and early 80's, to my recollection. Fittingly, ELP gave me my first introduction to classical music. I own about a dozen classical cds, and three of them are directly influenced by ELP's rock versions.

Of course, I own an Aaron Copland collection, which includes the aforementioned "Fanfare" as well as "Rodeo", a piece of which ELP covers on their finest album, 1972's Trilogy. Gustav Holst's "The Planets" was purchased as a result of hearing the band's 1987 incarnate, Emerson, Lake & Powell, perform "Mars, The Bringer of War". Most importantly, though, my favorite classical composition, Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain", was the final track on a cd of "Pictures at an Exhibition", which I purchased after hearing ELP's live album of the same name.

How did I get turned onto ELP is the real question? And how the hell did they become, not only my favorite British prog-rock band, but my absolute favorite band for a short period of time? The latter question will have to remain unanswered, but I have several theories regarding the former.

I'm pretty sure I first truly learned of this band when the progressive rock supergroup, Asia, came on the scene in 1982. Asia, of course, included Carl Palmer, as well as Steve Howe of Yes, John Wetton of King Crimson, and Geoff Downes of The Buggles...ok, it was 75% of a supergroup. Yes, I had heard "Fanfare" in the 70's, but didn't know or care who performed the song, and I had confused them with ELO during that decade as well.

However, I think the overriding factors were that Greg Lake had sang on the seminal prog-rock album, In the Court of the Crimson King, and the logical next step for me was to become obsessed with this keyboard heavy style of music. Of course, anyone in their right mind knew that Rick Wakeman couldn't match Keith's Emerson's organ...playing, that is. Back then, I could frequently be heard saying that the guitar was, in fact, my least favorite rock instrument. I've since reconsidered this ludicrous statement, but it was true at the time.

I have to say that ELP is currently inhabiting that territory, along with Styx and Triumph, of the band's in whose music I'm finding the fewest redeeming qualities as I take this stroll down memory lane. I'm pretty sure this is the last time I'll be making a statement such as that.

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